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There are a large number of studies on character strengths published each year, with conservative estimates being at least one per week. This does not include the thousands of studies on specific strengths in the classification such as the various studies on creativity, leadership, gratitude, and so forth. The number of character strengths studies has consistently grown each year since the publication of the VIA Classification a decade and a half-ago. Below are just a handful of highlights of very recent publications.

  • A study of 11,699 people with different kinds of disabilities were looked at in terms of character strengths. The top character strengths were love of learning, honesty, appreciation of beauty, kindness, and fairness, and there was some variation of these based on the type of disability (Umucu et al., 2022).
    Umucu, E., Lee, B., Genova, H. M., Chopik, W. J., Sung, C., Yasuoka, M., & Niemiec, R. M. (2022). Character strengths across disabilities: An international exploratory study and implications for positive psychiatry and psychology. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 13, 863977.
  • This study from China showed that employees’ perceived strengths-based Human Resources system leads to increased unethical pro-organizational behavior (e.g., misrepresenting the truth to help the organization look good), and that organizational identification (e.g., happy to be a member of the organization) acts as a mediator in this relationship (Ding & Liu, 2022). This study used the term strengths in a “generic” way as opposed to looking at character strengths in particular, and points toward what Niemiec (2018) has referred to as the “misuse” of character strengths - using strengths for a negative purpose which is a distinct concept from the overuse/underuse of strengths (Ding & Liu, 2022).
    Ding, H., & Liu, J. (2022). The dark side of strengths-based approach in the workplace: Perceived strengths-based human resource system spurs unethical pro-organizational behavior. Current Psychology.
  • A study of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) and clinicians who work with people with IDD using the VIA Survey, found that the use of the VIA Survey fostered self-understanding and self-esteem, provided a framework/language of strengths, shaped strengths-based interventions, and enhanced communication across service systems (Schwartz et al., 2022).
    Schwartz, A. E., Caoili, A., Beasley, J. B., Kramer, J. M., & Kalb, L. G. (2022). Clinical applications of the VIA inventory of strengths with individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Journal of Positive Psychology.
  • This study of grandparents’ caregiving highlights character strengths (and social support) as protective factors, finding that character strengths (and social support) explained the effect of the amount of care on grandparents’ mental health related-quality of life, and also for grandparents’ physical health related-quality of life (Noriega et al., 2022).
    Noriega, C., Velasco, C., Pérez-Rojo, G., & López, J. (2022). Character strengths and social support as protective factors between grandparents’ caregiving and health-related quality of life. Journal of Child and Family Studies. Advance online publication.
  • A study of 1881 4th/5th grade children across 288 classrooms and 60 schools in Brazil examined character strengths and a number of variables including social-emotional learning (SEL). Higher quality relationships between students-teachers was associated with larger character strengths increases in boys, and teachers’ use of SEL strategies was a predictor of character strengths change over time (Thomas, da Cunha, & Santo, 2022).
    Thomas, K. J., da Cunha, J. & Santo, J.B. (2022). Changes in character virtues are driven by classroom relationships: A longitudinal study of elementary school children. School Mental Health.
  • This study assessed child-parent attachment using the Friends and Family Interview and VIA Youth Survey, and found that secure attachment in children to mothers and fathers was strongly linked with character strengths that are in categories of interpersonal, temperance, and transcendence and did not predict intellectual/wisdom strengths (Kerns et al., 2022).
    Kerns, K. A., Obeldobel, C. A., Kochendorfer, L. B., & Gastelle, M. (2022). Attachment security and character strengths in early adolescence. Journal of Child and Family Studies.
  • A large meta-analysis involving 214 studies of character education programs revealed a small, significant positive effect, with above average effects for three programs - Cognitive Problem-Solving, Kohlberg’s Moral Dilemma Discussion, and Strong Kids. Despite selection bias in the character education literature, the small positive effects remained significant after correction (Brown et al., 2022). Brown, M., McGrath, R. E., Bier, M. C., Johnson, K., & Berkowitz, M. W. (2022). A comprehensive meta-analysis of character education programs. Journal of Moral Education.
  • In a study of 177 married couples, women’s character strengths of caring, inquisitiveness, and self-control were related to men’s marital quality, while men’s inquisitiveness and self-control were related to women’s marital quality (Boiman-Meshita & Littman-Ovadia, 2022).
    Boiman-Meshita, M., & Littman-Ovadia, H. (2022). Is it me or you? An actor-partner examination of the relationship between partners’ character strengths and marital quality. Journal of Happiness Studies, 23, 195–210.
  • This study interviewed 249 psychologists about the basic properties of character strengths, including conceptual breadth (broad vs. narrow), polarity (unipolar vs. bipolar), and emergence (tonic vs. phasic). A considerable variety of observations emerged across the properties examined (Arbenz, Gander, & Ruch, 2022).
    Arbenz, G. C., Gander, F., & Ruch, W. (2022). Breadth, polarity, and emergence of character strengths and their relevance for assessment. Journal of Positive Psychology.
  • A randomized study in China compared a character strengths-based intervention and a group counseling intervention on mental health outcomes among students. Both interventions showed an increase in post-traumatic growth and well-being but not depression. The character strengths group scored significantly higher on post-traumatic growth than the counseling group (Yu et al., 2022).
    Yu, Y., Chotipanvihayakul, R., Wichaidit, W., & Cai, W. (2022). Effects of character strength-based intervention vs group counseling on post-traumatic growth, well-being, and depression among university students during the COVID-19 pandemic in Guangdong, China: A non-inferiority trial. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 15, 1517-1529.
  • Across four samples, self-report and informant-reports of character strengths were found to be independent of fluid intelligence (i.e., a focal point of traditional intelligence testing involving reasoning ability and generating and manipulating information in real time) in children, adolescents, and adults. The one exception was the strength, love of learning, which showed small but positive relationships with fluid intelligence in the samples (Kretzschmar et al., 2022).
    Kretzschmar, A., Wagner, L., Gander, F., Hofmann, J., Proyer, R. T., & Ruch, W. (2022). Character strengths and fluid intelligence. Journal of Personality.
  • A workplace study using a digital/online platform involving strengths feedback as an intervention. Findings included higher levels of strengths use, need satisfaction, well-being, and autonomous motivation compared to controls (Dubord et al., 2022). **
    Dubord, M. A. G., Forest, J., Balciunaite, L. M., Rouen, E., & Jungert, T. (2022). The power of strength-oriented feedback enlightened by self-determination theory: A positive technology-based intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies.
  • Study of allyship (i.e., when the member of a dominant or majority group works to end oppression by supporting or advocating for an oppressed individual/group) finding that highlighting a female employee’s identity-related strengths after a discrimination episode was linked with higher inclusion and vitality as compared with communicating the organization’s diversity policy or confronting the transgressor. Highlighting identity strengths signals the ally’s sincerity and thereby prompts inclusion (Warren, Sekhon, & Waldrop, 2022).
    Warren, M.A., Sekhon,T., & Waldrop, R. J. (2022). Highlighting strengths in response to discrimination: Developing and testing an allyship positive psychology intervention. International Journal of Wellbeing.

Updated August 2022